Last Saturday as my sister and I were running around the UP Academic Oval, we encountered a woman going at a madcap pace and maintaining it. While I commend her for her speed and stamina, I couldn’t help cringing every time I saw her fast approaching me. It was almost like watching a train wreck in slow motion: it’s a disaster, but you’re transfixed and can’t look away. There was nothing odd about her — except it looked as if two tennis balls had been hung around her neck and were bouncing around under her shirt. Think Baywatch, except no swimsuits and there’s a silicone drought.
So it’s not Baywatch.
I know feminists burned their bras back in the 1960′s as a sign of protest against male oppression, but that doesn’t mean bras don’t have a use, particularly in high-impact sports like running. Breasts are made of fat and connective tissue. Thin bands called Cooper’s ligaments hold breasts up, but motions such as running stretch these ligaments irreparably, causing breasts to sag.
This woman looked as if she were used to running bra-less, since the wave-like movement of her chest area didn’t seem to bother her. (I wonder if she experiences jogger’s nipple. *shudder*) Ladies, unless you’re remotely turned on by the idea of your boobs hanging to your ankles before you’re 40, you should definitely wear a bra on your runs. And I’m not talking about any ordinary bra; that’s why there are such things as sports bras.
Anna knows best.
Here’s how I pick my sports bras:
- Reduced bounce. Whenever I try on a sports bra, I jump around in the fitting room while wearing them. From small hops to giant leaps, up and down and side to side, I test whether I can feel a lot of vibration or see visually whether my chest moves a maximum of half an inch in any direction.
Some bras simply compress the breasts to reduce bounce, while other bras encapsulate each breast in a cup (this is usually recommended for larger breasts). Whatever option you choose, Anna Kournikova used to say this about her sports bra: the only thing that should bounce is the (tennis) ball. (And there are no balls in running, so…)
- Wide straps. Bra straps transfer the weight of my chest to my shoulders. Wider straps distribute this weight more evenly, so they’re less likely to cut into my skin. I also like racerback styles or straps that cross in the back because they give shoulder blades freedom to move, and they don’t slip off my shoulders.
- Band comfort. Sports bras should fit snugly under my breasts, but not too tightly because that’ll hamper breathing and cause friction burns. (Ouch!) The wider the elastic band, the better.
- Thick cups. Some bras come with built-in cups; for others, I have to slip some bra covers under the fabric. Personally I don’t like people seeing that my headlights are on (figuratively speaking), so I choose brands that have adequate thickness in that area. Ahem, let’s move on…
So, ladies, do yourselves a favor. Get a sports bra (or two, or three, or four, or more). I’m always on the hunt for one. Think of it this way: a good bra is like a best friend — close to your heart, and supportive through life’s ups and downs.
By the way, you can now become a fan of KIKAYRUNNER on Facebook so you can virtually keep up with me!